I have handled some really amazing Proof gold coins in 2014, and one of the rarest and most interesting is this PCGS PR64 1872 double eagle. I’d like to share some information about this specific coin and about Proof Type Two double eagles in general.
The Type Two double eagle design was first used to strike business-strike double eagles in 1866, and it is clearly distinguishable by the presence of the motto IN GOD WE TRUST on the reverse. It continued until 1877 when the denomination was changed from TWENTY D. to TWENTY DOLLARS. Proofs were made for all eleven years of the Type Two issuance, but in very limited quantities. In fact, the total mintage figure is just 335 for the entire type, of which perhaps a third are still known. Proof Type Two double eagles are most often seen in PR63 to PR64 grades and most have either been cleaned at one time or are now bright from having been conserved.
A total of 30 Proof 1872 double eagles were made, and it is estimated that fewer than 10 are known. Of these, at least two are impounded in institutional collections (ANS and Smithsonian/US Mint) and another two have been cleaned at one time and, by today’s standards, grade in the PR62 to PR63 range. The finest known is likely a single PR66DCAM graded by PCGS which last sold for $143,750 as Stacks 6/02: 127. In the last decade there have been seven auction appearances for Proof double eagles of this date (including at least two or three coins with multiple sales) with only one since 2009. The most recent appearance is, in fact, for the coin which I just sold. Graded PR64 by PCGS and housed in an old green label holder, this coin sold for $135,125 as Heritage 10/14: 5111.
This coin, which is the only 1872 double eagle approved by CAC, shows nice orange-gold color with fully reflective surfaces. It would certainly be designated as a Cameo if it were resubmitted to PCGS; it was graded by this service before that adjectival modifier was added to Proof gold coinage. The obverse shows some light hairlines in the left field which limit the grade, while the reverse is a full-blown Gem.
This coin was recently consigned to auction as part of a small group of impressive Proof gold coinage which was, supposedly, the property of a La Jolla woman. A bit of cursory research reveals that this coin has not been in auction since it was slabbed and its previous pedigree.
As I mentioned above, the survival rate for this type in Proof is around one-third of the original mintage and this figure is slightly skewed by the 1876—with a mintage of 50—that seems to have a survival rate which is closer to half of the original mintage. One must remember that $20 was a huge sum of money in the late 1860’s/early 1870’s, and only the wealthiest collectors could realistically afford to buy a Proof double eagle and save it.
Given the fact that Proof Type One double eagles are out of the price range of all but the wealthiest collectors in today’s collecting environment, coins such as this attractive Type Two gain added stature as essentially the oldest issues of this denomination which can be obtained.
Do you collect Proof gold coinage? Would you like to begin a collection of these magnificent rarities? Contact me, Doug Winter, directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to formulate a buying strategy that is right for you.